Breishit (Genesis) The Book of Genesis is concerned with beginnings: the creation of the world and the origin of humanity. It quickly shifts its focus from universal history to the history of the Jewish people beginning in chapter 12, with the introduction of Abraham, the first Jew. The remainder of the book focuses on the lives of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel and Leah, and Joseph. The book ends with the entire family of Jacob descending into Egypt. There are fifty chapters, divided into twelve parashiyot. The parashiyot in Breishit are: Breishit, Noah, Lech Lecha, VaYera, Chaye Sarah, Toldot, VaYetze, VaYishlach, VaYeshev, Miketz, VaYigash and VaYechi.


Breishit : What kind of relationship do we want to have with God in the coming year?

In this first parasha of the Torah, it all begins, and then almost ends. In the beginning, the Torah describes how the Eternal One created the Universe day by day, beginning with the Heavens and the Earth and culminating with humanity. After six days, God ceases from the acts of creation and sanctifies the seventh day as the crown jewel of creation - the Sabbath. The parasha continues with the stories of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the conflict between their sons Cain and Abel, and then a review of all the generation from Adam to Noah. The portion concludes with God's regret over the wickedness of human beings, and the decision to destroy everything on earth.

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These summaries and introductions are used with permission of Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning in Toronto, Canada. Kolel is a dynamic, pluralistic, egalitarian institution where men and women engage in Jewish learning which values both traditional and liberal interpretations. Kolel is a gateway into a richer expression of Judaism for each individual, wherever their journey of Jewish discovery may take them.